Trying To Include A Deceased Parent In Our Holiday Rituals Is Opening Old Wounds
My father passed away before I had my children. You could describe our relationship as “tumultuous” at best – downright aggressive and angry at worst. I’m sure I’m not the only person who would tell you that death allows you to see a person with new eyes. I want my children to have stories about their grandfather – I want them to “know” him as best they can. How do I incorporate a father I didn’t get along with when he was living into our family rituals now? It’s something I’ve been struggling with this year.
My father and I very much had a love-hate relationship. I was twelve when my mother and sister went away to celebrate my sister’s graduation from high school and my father saw his window of opportunity. He packed his stuff and left. He was so anxious to get out the door, he sort of forgot that he was leaving his 12-year-old daughter alone in the house for the rest of the week.
We were buddies before this happened. We joked, we laughed, we played video games – I was too young to feel the brunt of the discipline that my sister felt as a high school student. When he left – I was scared, angry and baffled. Being that I was twelve and not understanding the intricasies of adult relationships, I thought it was my fault. I didn’t tell my family about his absence for years – I just let them believe he left the day that they returned. My father leaving was the first and worst disappointment of my life. It would taint our relationship until the day he died.
I didn’t have the luxury of grandparents when I was growing up. My mom’s parents died when I was very young, and my father’s were not close to our family. I always wished I had a grandma or grandpa – from what I saw of their involvement in my friends’ lives – grandmas and grandpas were awesome.
We moved to Florida during my second pregnancy – and although my first child has always been close to his grandma – he worships her now. There’s something about having her here day in and day out that is so special. He calls for her when he gets hurt. He asks to go to her when he can’t fall asleep at night. I love that. I love it even more because it’s something I never had and always wanted. I was told a few anecdotes about my deceased grandparents when I was a child – but not enough to make me feel close to them. I want my son to feel close to the grandfather he looks – and acts – so much like.